Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey’s office has confirmed he will make an official election announcement this evening at the provincial legislature.
He asked Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Justice Deborah Fry, who was acting in the lieutenant-governor’s absence, to dissolve the legislature at about 3:10 p.m. local time today.
Furey, a surgeon, was elected by the governing minority Liberals to lead the party in August. Megan Reynolds, a spokeswoman for his campaign, says the Liberals have their eyes on a majority.
Reynolds said the pandemic will certainly make for a different campaign — she wouldn’t say whether the Liberals would have a campaign bus — but the candidates are prepared and getting creative with ideas for virtual meetings.
“Social media, I think is going to be more important than ever,” she said in an interview Friday.
Their biggest competition will come from the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, led by lawyer Ches Crosbie, son of the famously outspoken politician John Crosbie. In an interview Friday, the party’s campaign chair, Shawn Skinner, said the party will run candidates in all 40 of the province’s ridings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough to raise funds, Skinner said. People in the province don’t have as much cash as they normally do, and large fundraising events aren’t allowed under public health guidelines.
“We’re probably down 20 to 25 per cent, of what we would normally raise,” he said.
The pandemic also means the party won’t have a tour bus heading across the province this time. “You’d be a driving petri dish,” Skinner said. Instead, the campaign will rely more on livestreamed events, he said. Candidates will be knocking on doors, but they’ll stand back and give people appropriate space when they answer, he said.
The provincial NDP party, led by economist Alison Coffin, made gains in the last general election in May 2019, winning three seats in the legislature after running just 14 candidates in the province’s 40 ridings.
Kyle Rees, the NDP’s campaign chairman, said the party has been preparing for this election for a while and expects to have at least 30 candidates.
At dissolution, the Liberals held 19 seats, the Progressive Conservatives held 15, the NDP had three and there were three Independents.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.
The Canadian Press